Gemma McCluskie trial: “Feasible” that brother has no memory of killing

15:26 23 January 2013

Gemma McCluskie. Picture: Metropolitan Police

Gemma McCluskie. Picture: Metropolitan Police

It is “feasible” that the brother of Gemma McCluskie has no memory of killing her or dismembering her body, an expert has said.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Tony McCluskie in the dock at the Old Bailey. Picture: Elizabeth Cook/PA WireCourt artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Tony McCluskie in the dock at the Old Bailey. Picture: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire

Professor Michael Kopelman told the jury in the trial of Tony McCluskie that memory gaps could occur in “emotional” violent crimes involving family members.

McCluskie, 35, admits killing his sister but denies murder, saying he has no recollection of what happened after he grabbed her.

Gemma’s torso was found in a suitcase in the Regent’s Canal in east London, followed by her limbs in plastic bags. Her head was found six months later.

The 29-year-old, who played Kerry Skinner, the niece of Ethel Skinner, in EastEnders in 2001, was officially identified by dental records.

Prof Kopelman, an expert in neuropsychiatry at the University of London, assessed McCluskie while he was in custody at Belmarsh Prison following his arrest.

Asked by defence barrister Jeremy Dein QC whether it was feasible that the defendant had “genuine amnesia”, Prof Kopelman told the Old Bailey: “It is feasible that this may be the case.

“It commonly gets reported where the crime takes place in a state of emotional arousal, unpremeditated and unplanned and the victim is a wife, partner, relative, someone close to the defendant.”

He added: “There are things that have reminiscent characteristics of the literature on these cases, but there have been inconsistencies in his account and there was a delay in reporting his amnesia.”

Prof Kopelman said memory gaps in violent offenders usually lasted up to an hour but there had been some cases of up to 36 hours.

During his assessment, McCluskie claimed he could not remember anything after grabbing his sister’s wrists on March 1, 2011 - the day she was killed - until the morning of March 3.

The defendant had shown symptoms of “mild moderate depression” on March 1, which had since progressed to “serious depression” during his time in custody, Prof Kopelman said.

McCluskie said he suffered blackouts “infrequently” after drinking heavily and regularly smoking a strong form of cannabis, the court heard.

Completing his evidence at the Old Bailey today, McCluskie said he thinks about his sister every day.

“There’s not a minute of the day I don’t think about my sister,” he said.

“I miss my sister so much.”

The trial continues.

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